Fronted by Karl Willetts, Memoriam has consistently released in-your-face old-school Death Metal releases for a few years now, and with “Rise to Power” they continue leveling everything in their way. Featuring eight tracks and over 45 minutes of headbanging bliss, this release brings back nostalgic times while keeping up with the times with a superb production and a more melodic edge.
Opening with “Never Forget, Never Again (6 Million Dead)”, we get a high-octane track with punishing guitars and crafty drums, perfectly paired with Karl’s signature snarl. There are definitely some Bolt Thrower influences here and there, but the band zeroes in on heavy, well-crafted, and intense pieces like “Total War”, “I am the Enemy”, and the sinister “The Conflict Is Within” and its chuggy riffs.
Dramatic openings of songs like “Your Stories I’ll Remember” and “Paradise” perfectly showcase the band’s versatility and cinematic nature, making their sound one of the best in the scene. While many bands in the genre have opted to add more Pop-ish elements into their music, Xandria keeps things strictly Symphonic Metal with a good dose of intensity and additional instrumentation, as “The Maiden and the Child” and “Astèria” showcase.
After an acoustic opener, “State of Slow Decay” quickly delivers some chuggy guitars that suddenly transform into your quintessential Swedish old-school Melodic Death Metal riffs. This immediately caught us by surprise as the song continues to be quite effective, and even impressive with the killer twin guitar leads. Before quickly agreeing that the hype is real, there are still some of the more modern Core-ish elements that will scare purists away as one notices on “Meet Your Maker” and “Bleeding Out”.
Making a comeback after six years and a completely new line-up, today we have Marco Heubaum and Xandria with “The Wonders Still Awaiting”. Featuring 74 minutes of intense and bombastic music, the band is ready to continue their story and unleash upon fans of the genre lush orchestrations and dramatic arrangements.
Opening with the explosive “Two Worlds”, we are instantly reminded of the band’s knack for dramatic vocal arrangements alongside heavy distorted guitars and growls thrown into the mix. While the band’s style remains at its core the same, there is a certain freshness that new vocalist Ambre Vourvahis brings into the mix. Tracks like “Reborn”, “You Will Never Be Our God”, and “Ghosts” are perfect examples of their dynamic songwriting and perfectly managed tempo changes.
A lot has happened since the band’s 2020 banger “Apocalypse & Chill”. The band’s signature vocalist Charlotte Wessels and pretty much all other members at the time left as Martijn Westerholt decided to press reset on this band. With tons of expectations being generated of who would be the new vocalist of the band, Diana Leah was unveiled late 2022 alongside a few returning ex-Delainers. All those issues aside, “Dark Waters” showcases a triumphant new phase in the band’s story with lush and bombastic music.
Opening with the lush “Hideaway Paradise”, Delain is back in full force with soaring vocal melodies alongside crafty symphonic arrangements and a good dose of distorted guitars. The band’s style feels refreshed and focused on their strengths, with Martijn Westerholt leading with dramatic orchestral arrangements, as we can quickly hear in pieces like “The Quest and the Curse”, “Beneath”, and “Mirror of Night”. Diana Leah’s vocals are superb and perfectly bring to life the cinematic nature of the music.
Delivering over 45 minutes of highly enigmatic and atmospheric Doom Metal, today we have Canada’s Tribunal and their debut release “The Weight of Remembrance”. Perfectly blending crushing riffs and haunting cello arrangements, this release is sort of a mixture of My Dying Bride and SubRosa to some extent. Highly recommended for fans of the genre, this album creates an oppressive atmosphere while delivering a few surprises.
The release quickly sets a moody tone with the powerful “Initiation” and its slowly crushing riffs alongside Soren Mourne’s hypnotic vocals. Similar to Jex Thoth, Soren’s deep and enigmatic vocals give a very eerie and solemn tone to the music, as heard on pieces like the crushing “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbled Stone” and the desolate “Apathy's Keep”. The band’s ability to craft truly haunting and sinister atmospheres is top notch as each track delivers its own unique magic.
Unleashing nearly 45 minutes of hellish Black Metal, today we have international supergroup Høstsol and their debut full-length “Länge leve döden”. Featuring Niklas Kvarforth on vocals, Cernunnus (Manes) on guitars, Rainer Tuomikanto (Ajattara) on drums, and Vesa Wahlroos (Ajattara) on bass guitar, this stacked lineup delivers five tracks of intense music that is both moody and demoralizing.
After an atmospheric mood setting opening, “As seen through the eyes of the prophet” nicely warms up to melodic riffs and Niklas Kvarforth’s signature snarls. While the opener does not show all the cards the band has, “Det som en gång var (det kommer aldrig igen)” quickly escalates into crushing heaviness with intense drumming and blistering guitar-work alongside a throbbing bass guitar line. This track is as sinister as they get, perfectly shifting the release to higher gears.
Storming the listener with waves of melancholy and aggression, today we have one-man project Oerheks and their 2023 demo “Landschapsanachronismen”. Delivering nearly 25 minutes of music in two crushing tracks, this release showcases a very promising band with excellent ideas and a knack for oppressive atmospherics paired with lush interludes.
Creating a truly haunting and crushing release, today we have Germany’s Fvnerals and their devastating release “Let the Earth Be Silent”, which we are sure the earth will be after listening to this towering album. Presenting an amalgamation of Doom/Post-Metal and Ambient elements, this release unleashes over 40 minutes of highly intoxicating and yet bone-chilling music.
Opening with the masterful “Ashen Era”, we are quickly led down a dark and sinister path thanks to the punishing riffs and eerie atmospherics. As soon as Tiffany Ström’s vocals come into play, the vibe is weirdly shifted with eerie dreaminess but still delivering its dark nature. This overall feeling of helplessness is perfectly maintained as “Descent”, “For Horror Eats the Light”, and the enigmatic “Annihilation” pass by making their mark.
Delivering a very interesting concept of covering tracks from each other, today we have Norwegian artists Frøkedal and Sâver. In this split release we get two very unique pieces, one highly atmospheric, the second with a Folkier edge, creating a dark and engaging release that we found ourselves playing in repeat a few too many times.
Hailing from the USA, today we have one-man outfit Dreams of Gray presenting us with their debut EP “The World After”. Featuring three songs of catchy and engaging Melodic Metal that incorporates elements from Thrash, Doom, Heavy Metal, this release is quite a solid, but short, introduction to the band.